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Helwith Bridge is a classic location on the Settle and Carlisle line, which offers good morning shots of workings with either the quarry in the background, or a small viaduct over the river Ribble. There is also an afternoon shot from the west side of the quarry, which on clear days offers views of Pen-y-gent in the background.
For more information on the Settle and Carlisle line please see the Settle - Carlisle Partnership website
and consider joining Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line.
Railway type and traffic
Most of the local services to Carlisle are operated by 158 multiple units.
There are a number of freight services operated by DB Schenker/Freightliner/GBRf. DRS operate the autumnal RHTT trains
over the route.
The main location is on a busy and narrow road which serves the locally quarry which heavy HGVs use. Unfortunately this road is at its busiest when the shot is at its best here. At all times keep to the edge of the road and do not try to dash in front of a HGV to get a shot, you will probably not get it.
The hills to the east offer a steep climb to get the shot, and the footpath to get the shot from the morning side of the viaduct may have nettles and be boggy.
From Settle, take the main B6479 north, signposted Horton-in-Ribblesdale and continue through Langcliffe until you come to a left turn marked Helwith Bridge.Click here to set up your location for directions to this location Helwith Bridge map co-ordinates
It is possible to park at the field entrance just as you turn onto the road into Helwith bridge, and this has parking for 4 to 5 cars. If this is full, there is also a lay-by on the main B6479 which again would hold a good number of cars. If you wish to do the east hill shot, then parking right at the end of this lay-by should keep your car out of the shot - bear this in mind when parking.
Parking for the afternoon viaduct shot is achieved, by driving past the bridge and pub and taking the first right which takes you to the quarry. You should see the viaduct, and just before this is a field entrance with room to park one car. You will block the entrance to the field, but as you will not be far from your car to take the shot, this should not be a problem.
The nearest railway station is Horton-in-Ribblesdale, but that would entail about an hour walk to get to this location. Dalesbus
operate the 581 bus which runs between Settle and Horton-in-Ribblesdale along the B6479, and a kindly bus driver may stop at Helwith Bridge. This bus runs 6 days a week, at roughly 1 and half hourly intervals.Click here to set up your location for directions to this location
There are no amenities at the location but over the bridge there is a pub, called The Helwith Bridge, and the food pub in Austwick, called The Game Cock Inn
is very highly rated (you will have to book for evening meal).
Both of these pubs also have accommodation.
Sun Compass using Suncalc by brought to you by Vladimir Agafonkin
It might be necessary to adjust the time to suit your visit, this link should open with the current day.
Helwith Bridge general view map
Helwith Bridge close up map
Windows Local Live Link
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There are a variety of views to be had at this location, with the main two being the southbound and northbound shots from the east side of the road/rail bridge. Both are best in the morning, as the trees on the west side of the bridge ruin that shot.
There are a couple of alternatives.
To the east the land rises sharply to Overdale and it is possible to take a side on morning shot of both north and southbound traffic from either the bridle path or two fields to the north of this.
Another shot to be had in the morning is found by following the footpath through the field to where it crosses the wall. Once over the first wall, walk between the walls to the river, here there might be nettles and slightly boggy ground, but it will bring you a side on view of the viaduct over the infant river Ribble with the quarry in the background.
A similar afternoon shot is available on the over side of this viaduct.
General views - All photographs © Richard Tearle unless otherwise stated
Fig 1 - Looking south
Taken from on top of the bridge with the camera point southwards on a misty late spring morning. This shot was taken with a 50mm lens; you have to be careful both crossing the road and standing getting this shot of the HGVs.
Fig 2 - Looking south
Taken from the east side of the bridge of a northbound train on a bright late summer morning. This shot was taken with a 200mm lens.
Fig 3 - Looking west
An interesting shot, taken from the hills to the east of the location with the line, quarry, pond and a patchwork of fields. This shot was taken with a 135mm on a dull morning, but with no train as I could see the fog rolling in from the west over the hills with a quick location change ensuing.
Fig 4 - Looking north
Taken from the east side of the bridge of a southbound train on a misty late spring morning. On a clear day the quarry makes an impressive background to this shot. This shot was taken with a 50mm lens.
Fig 5 - Looking west
Taken from the east side of the line showing the small viaduct over the river Ribble off the first southbound unit of the day in late summer. Minutes later the viaduct was in full sun. This shot was taken with an 85mm lens, but in hindsight a 50mm lens would have worked better.
Fig 6 - Looking east - image © Mark Bearton
Fig 7 - Looking east - image © Mark Bearton
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